Stopping the spread of flu

Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG Wigan Observer Comment Piece

As we are seeing at the moment, flus and viruses (both new ones and old ones) can spread very quickly amongst people who live, work and travel together.

Most flus and viruses require people to spend about fifteen minutes in close proximity to spread, or for people to come in to contact with a contaminated item (a pen, box of tissues or telephone for example).  And most of them require bodily fluids to spread in reality.

By bodily fluids, I mean spit, snot, saliva and the lovely, disgustingly moist particles that you sneeze and cough out.  A lovely thought..!

Have you seen those adverts on TV for one of the big antibiotic cleaning products that shows a boy spreading his germs on everything he touches as he comes through the house?

Well maybe that is a bit of exaggeration, maybe it isn’t, but keeping your hands clean is a really big part of stopping the spread of flus and viruses.

How often do you run the toilet and give your hands only a cursory, quick sweep under the tap?  Do you always use soap?  Do you (horror!) ever not wash your hands at all?  If you do any of those things, you will be spreading your germs left, right and centre, to all your loved ones, all your work colleagues and anyone else you come into contact with – thank you very much!

To wash your hands properly you really need to use soap and water and really make sure you get the soap in between all your fingers, round your complete thumb, ingrained in to the creases in to your palms and under your finger nails.  Then wash the soap off thoroughly with fresh, running water.

It really doesn’t take long and can be done quickly with practice, but it makes a huge difference to the spread of all the different kinds of flu and viruses.

The other small difference we can all make is the catch it, bin it, kill it.  In other words if you are going to cough or sneeze, please, please, please grab a tissue and use it to catch the moisture from the cough or sneeze.  All those little particles you cough or sneeze out contain germs and they will spread surprisingly far if you don’t stop it.  You can easily sneeze over 2-3 people with one sneeze.

Once you have caught it in your tissue, bin your tissue and wash your hands to kill the bugs that are left.

If you don’t have a tissue, then use your hand.  But don’t think it is then acceptable to wipe your hand on your trousers!!  Just head straight to the sink and, I’m sure you know what is coming, wash your hands.  Properly.

If we all follow this simple advice and take a little time, we can make a big difference to the spread of all flus and viruses and protect ourselves, our families and our friends.